Reiko's Ramblings and Writings

What I'm reading and writing about lately.

IFComp 2015 Review: Pit of the Condemned

Posted by Reiko on November 17, 2015

This is a review of a game from the 2015 Interactive Fiction Competition. Scoring criteria can be found here.

Pit of the Condemned
Author: Matthew Holland
Format: Z-code

You’re a condemned criminal sent to a ruined city for execution by beast. Instead of being eaten, you can run and set a trap for the beast. I had fun with this, but it’s an awfully thin implementation, really. The city is sprawlingly large but very thinly described, if somewhat evocative due to the hints of non-human occupancy.

The clever bit is that there are some randomly generated locations for things, so with at least three different traps that can be set for the beast, and various locations for the critical items for those traps, multiple playthroughs can be different. The city is so large, though, and the beast is slow enough, that when I played, I quickly got far enough away from the beast that I was mostly able to explore at leisure. I would love to see an updated version of this with a slightly smaller arena and more lore available to find during exploration. This would make for a better balance between exploration and survival.

Also, I didn’t see any way to save the girl. She’s got a twisted ankle and won’t follow me, so can’t get away from the beast. Maybe if the beast started out far enough away, perhaps it would be possible to lure it away from her and set up a trap quickly enough, but the beast always seems to start about two locations away from the central square, so I can’t get around quickly enough to lure it in a different direction. It just seems pointless to have her there in the first place if she’s going to die that quickly. All she does is suggest escape might be possible by killing the beast. The game ends immediately if the beast dies, though, which is actually kind of cool in that you can set a trap and wander off and the beast may well stumble into it on his own without being lured.

Time: 30 min
Scoring: base 7, +1 for randomized setup, -1 for thin implementation
Score: 7

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